The clearing and forwarding agents at Kamalapur Inland Container Depot called off their strike yesterday after the revenue authority promised to accept their logical demands.
Activities at the ICD, hit by the strike enforced by a section of C&F agents since June 8, resumed yesterday afternoon, customs officials and C&F agents said.
The deadlock ended after the officials of National Board of Revenue sat with the leaders of Dhaka Customs Agents Association (DCAA) and the strikers.
At the meeting, the NBR promised steps to stop 'harassment' by customs officials at the ICD. The tax authority also said it would ask the customs house at the ICD to expedite physical examination of consignments and to issue reports of examination as early as possible to facilitate trade.
Md Farid Uddin, NBR member (customs policy), chaired the meeting, where the C&F agents were told that only assorted containers would face a complete physical examination. Import consignments would be re-inspected if there are discrepancies between documents or there are inadequacies in the first examination report, according to the NBR.
"The NBR has agreed to accept our logical demands and promised to issue a guideline in this regard," said Sheikh Md Farid, president of DCAA.
The stalemate between the C&F agents and customs officials affected delivery of import consignments, leading to a pile of imported goods at the ICD, which handles 178 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) a day.
The imports-laden containers coming from Chittagong Port rose to 1,448 TEUs yesterday, from 1,386 TEUs the day before, according to ICD data.
The deadlock began after the customs house at the ICD tightened measures for inspections of consignments in a bid to stop tax evasion. Enraged by the move, a section of the C&F agents went on strike bypassing their platform.
Insiders, however, said some leaders of the platform and some other agents having links with the ruling party were behind the strike, as the detection of tax-dodging went against their interests.
The agents alleged 'harassment' by ICD Customs House Commissioner Maruful Islam, who, they said, demands frequent re-examination of import consignments. The re-inspection costs time and money, the agents said.
However, customs officials said only 17 of the 4,026 consignments were re-inspected since Islam assumed his current position. Besides, duty evasion was detected during re-inspection, the officials added.
Strikers demanded removal of Customs Commissioner Islam and Joint Customs Commissioner Khaled Mohammad Abu Hossain, accusing them of enforcing “dictatorial” rules.